A new study published today suggests that 73% of people are unaware of stroke symptoms. If you or a family member had a stroke would you be able to identify it?
First of all, what is a stroke? A stroke (or Cerebrovascular Accident - CVA) is a group of dissorders involving a sudden interruption of cerebral blood flow that results in a neurologic defect (Merk Manual 2013) Simplified, this means that the blood flow to an area of the brain is stopped for any number of reasons, which results in the brain losing it's ability to function properly. There are a number of different types of stroke including:
- Ischemic - this type of stroke is usually caused by a clot (thrombosis) or embolism blocking the arteries and therefore not allowing blood to flow to the brain
- Hemorrhagic - in this kind of stroke blood flow results from a vascular rupture, or break in the artery. Therefore blood is still flowing, it is just not reaching its proper destination.
The classic signs of stroke that everyone should know are:
1. Facial drooping
2. Arm weakness
3. Difficulty speaking
If you or anyone around you is experiencing these symptoms CALL 9-1-1 or your local emergency number
Other symptoms can include sudden severe headaches, impaired consciousness accompanied by headache, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, loss of balance, or visual disturbances.
Getting help quickly is key in the case of stroke. The first three hours following a stroke are often referred to as a 'golden window'. It is important for an individual having a stroke to receive medical attention and treatment during this time to minimize or prevent irreversable brain damage.
What is terrifying is the number of young individuals (18-45) having strokes. This number has increased as much as 53% since the mid 1990's. A national survey of young adults found that 3/4 would delay a trip to the hospital if having stroke symptoms!
Do not underestimate the signs of a stroke! Make sure you, your friends, and your family all know, and can recognize the signs of a stroke in order to achieve timely medical attention!
Don't know whether a family member or friend is having a stroke? Ask them these three simple things (just remember the first three letters S-T-R-oke)
S - Ask the individual to smile
T - As the person to talk, or speak a coherent sentence
R - Ask them to raise BOTH arms
Share this information - it might save your life or the life of someone you love!
- Dr Kendra Clifford ND
Thank you to my wonderful assistant Wendy for demonstrating the S-T-R mnemonic!
The information in this post is for educational purposes only and should not be substituted for medical advice.
Reference: Ronald Reagan Medical Center 2016. Survey finds 73% unaware of stroke symptoms.
Giraldo, E.A. 2013. Overview of Stroke (Verebrovascular Accident) Merck Manual. www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic-disorders/stroke-(cva)/overview-of-stroke